Movie reviews (the condensed version)

What did Lance think of 21? and other burning movie-buff questions


4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (NR) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.

FLAWLESS (PG-13) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.

SMART PEOPLE (PG-13) Fresh from Sundance, dysfunctional family dramedy du jour Smart People boasts Juno It-girl Ellen Page and a sprinkling of semi-big names like Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church butting heads to see who's the biggest mess. Also stars Dennis Quaid, Ashton Homes and David Denman. Opens April 11 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed).

SNOW ANGELS (R) Read Lance Goldenberg's review.


10,000 B.C. (PG-13) 10,000 B.C. is the latest movie from Roland Emmerich, the man responsible for bombast-fests such as Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, which should give you a fairly good idea of what to expect. Steven Strait and Camilla Belle play early humans running around in animal furs chasing and being chased by saber tooth tigers, woolly mammoths and other big, scary CGI creatures. There are some appealingly bizarre flourishes toward the end involving possible extraterrestrial influences on a quasi-Mayan/Egyptian civilization, but the movie is mainly just dull, silly (although not enough to be truly amusing) and a bit pretentious. Inexplicably, our grimy, dreadlocked heroes speak a stilted, prosaic English from a time when contractions apparently had not yet been invented. Also stars Cliff Curtis, Joel Fry, Tim Barlow and Nathanael Baring. 2 stars

21 (PG-13) A blander Ocean's 11 meets Good Will Hunting, 21 stars Jim Sturgess as a brilliant but dirt-poor MIT student who's reluctantly recruited by a shady professor (Kevin Spacey) to partake in a card-counting scheme to take Vegas for millions. 21 is an odd and not particularly satisfying kettle of fish, loosely based on a true story but only giving off the vaguest whiffs of anything resembling authenticity. Visually, the movie is a bit drab and dark, a look probably designed to make us think something serious is going on, but that's curiously at odds with a basically jaunty sensibility that seems to aim for (but never quite achieves) the groovy swagger of the Ocean's movies. The film doesn't ever manage to communicate the kids' system very coherently, nor with much energy, and 21 consequently winds up feeling a little like a heist movie without a heist. Spacey, who also produced, is fun to watch as yet another one of those deliciously insidious characters he plays so well, but he's not enough to save the movie. Sturgess' character rises, falls and then does a bit more rising by way of a half-hearted coda, but by that time 21 is simply running on fumes. Also stars Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Yoo, Jacob Pitts, Josh Gad and Sam Golzari. 2.5 stars

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (PG) You might expect that Dave Seville's singing rodents would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but they make the transition fairly painlessly thanks to this sweet and occasionally amusing big-screen outing. Jason Lee stars as the aspiring songwriter who learns about family and responsibility (and all the other things people are supposed to learn in movies like this) when a trio of talking chipmunks moves into his house and turns his world upside down. The CGI is fairly high quality, and the fart and poop jokes are held to a blessed minimum, but even at not-quite 90 minutes, the movie feels padded, and the last act drags on for what seems like forever. On the up side, the hip-hop beat grafted onto "Witchdoctor" isn't quite as ridiculous as you might imagine. Also stars David Cross, Cameron Richardson, Jane Lynch and Ross Bagdasarian. 2.5 stars

THE BANK JOB (R) Although it's neither as engagingly moody as Layer Cake nor as cleverly stylish as Guy Ritchie's output, The Bank Job makes for a nice addition to the current crop of British crime dramas. Jason Statham (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) stars as Terry, a small-time thief who's talked into pulling off the titular heist by a former girlfriend (Saffron Burrows) with a suitcase full of ulterior motives. What Terry and his crew of East End bumblers don't know is that, in addition to the millions of pounds stored in the bank they're targeting, the safe deposit boxes contain blackmail photos of highly ranked Brits that a number of shadowy figures are all too ready to kill for. Based on a series of actual events that took place in the early '70s, The Bank Job captures the feel of the period nicely, but is curiously workmanlike in the way it lays out the details of its fascinating and somewhat convoluted story. Seductions and betrayals pile up steadily but without much fanfare for much of the movie's running time, and it's only in its final act, as the violence approaches Tarantino-esque levels, that The Bank Job begins to fully come alive. Also stars Stephen Campbell Moore, Peter De Jersey, Daniel Mays, James Faulkner and Alki David. 3 stars

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